Dragons, Vegetarians, and Bluebeard fantasies, by Enid Richemont

 My latest small book with Franklin Watts came out around ten days ago. It's the story of a dragon who's fooled by a princess into attacking his own reflection in a deep pool. He does this because he can't bear to accept that there may be another dragon who might be even better than himself at laying waste the countryside, barbecuing knights and capturing (preferable blonde and subservient) princesses, like the ones pictured in his reference book, to be his slaves.

I first came up with this story for a Kingfisher anthology called: "Don't Kiss the Frog" - a more sophisticated version, so a much more grown-up presentation. Visually, I love both versions. Interesting to see that in both, the dragon has come out scarlet, maybe because he breathes out flames? I love the elegant typography in the older version, which I've shown here. And for the vegetarians among you, you'll be pleased to learn that the dragon was converted, and currently lives on his five-a-day (or on whatever the princess can forage for him.) He and the princess also run their own airport - DRAGON AIR, anyone? No free meals on board, and you'll have to wrap up warmly, but better than Ryanair...

Lately I've been re-reading Ian McEwan's novel: SATURDAY, written at the time of the Iraq war, and still relevant. Among other questions it raises is the difficult one: if a dictator is persecuting his own people, as well as threatening world peace, is it morally justifiable to attack him and, obviously his country? The main protagonist is a neurological surgeon, who's had first-hand dealings with one of Saddam's victims, and the main action takes place against the anti-war demonstrations in London, which I remember well, and which I supported (my husband, a wise and knowedgeable man) did not. At the beginning, though, I have to confess the joy we felt at seeing Saddam's statue topple - a man who'd used torture and poison gas against so many people - maybe the West was right? Of course it wasn't that simple, as we've all now learnt to our cost.

McEwan's writing is slow, detailed, and, at times, requiring great concentration, which I don't always have, being sometimes, plotwise, a bit like the child who keeps demanding: Are we there yet? without ever bothering to look out of the window and appreciate what's happening now. There's a lengthy scene in SATURDAY, in which the protagonist's state of mind is directly related to his game of squash with a colleague, and I don't play squash, so found myself, guiltily, skipping.

Which brings me, quite illogically, to Angela Carter, a very different writer who always makes me shiver, and via a very circuitous route, to Gransnet, an online forum for grandparents (I am one). Mostly, discussions are related to family and children, but they can also become interestingly political, and even more interestingly, weird. Someone had a friend who'd had her house 'spiritually cleansed' after unhappy events, so the discussions moved moved from whether this was profitable nonsense, or could buildings in some mysterious way hold a memory of the past, and this led me - because I have a nasty imagination - to Bluebeard and his many murdered wives, their remnants kept inside the forbidden room. This, in turn, led me into so many possible stories, so now I have to research Bluebeard, and also made me wonder why a room mightn't hold memories of happy events, too - lovemaking, maybe a birth, maybe a particularly fun party - but the dark side, as Angela Carter knew so well, is always what grabs people.

"DOUBLE DRAGONS", part of the 'Reading Champion' series, is now available on Amazon and also via Franklin Watts at Hachette: http://www.hachettechildrens.co.uk





Umberto Tosi said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Umberto Tosi said…
What a delightful posting, full of strange loops, from dragons, to Saddam, to the dark magic of Angela Carter! Thank you. If you're exploring bluebeard, I recommend the most-readable, insightful "Medea's Folly: Women, Relationships and the Search for Intimacy," by Jungian psychologist Tanya Wilkinson.
Enid Richemont said…
Oh thank you, Umberto. I will look for 'Medea's Folly' - sounds fascinaing.

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